It appears nothing stops Old Bridge students and teachers from making progress - even during the time of a pandemic with travel restrictions. Students from Liao Laoshi's class recently "traveled" to Hunan, China for a virtual Zoom exchange with Zhang Jia Jie First High School where they met a class of 9-12th graders studying English. Our students were not able to participate in this year's China Study Abroad program, necessitating creative solutions to bring students from both countries together. The virtual exchange program is part of the practice component for the AP Chinese exam's communicative portion. World Language AP exams test students' reading, writing, speaking and listening skills, which are honed during programs such as these exchanges where speaking and listening are reinforced with heritage speakers.
During this virtual Zoom seminar, students conducted a meet-and-greet, introducing themselves in Chinese and discussed issues related to high schools in both countries, such as the pressures of remote learning, life after graduation, the college acceptance process and family life. Both schools shared similar sentiments on how social media has the ability to positively change the world, if used appropriately. Of course, no teenager can resist the power of song, the universal language, resulting in students singing traditional Chinese songs during the video exchange. Overall, students and teachers planned a successful, engaging and fun program for students, highlighting the importance of opening our minds and doors to global awareness while building bridges for long-lasting friendships.
In addition to the Chinese AP Virtual Exchange, students also created and designed a Chinese bimonthly newsletter, as part of the National Chinese Honor Society requirements. Teacher of AP, Shanman Liao (affectionately known as "Liao Laoshi") stated that we must "encourage students to learn other languages while providing various platforms to practice them." The newsletter and virtual exchange did just this, offering students a way to share their learned skills. "Our students have so much talent to share with each other. In today's global economy, students need to work in teams and must understand what it means to be lifelong learners who have the knowledge and skills to adapt to an evolving workplace," Liao stated. She further stressed that the newsletter will also provide a platform where parents and the community can share in the successes of our students as they continue on their world language journey.
We are proud of our students' efforts in Chinese and applaud them, as well as their teachers, Ms Liao, Ms Chen and Ms Yang for all they are doing to make the virtual classroom come alive. Xie xie!